Tunisian oud maestro Dhafer Youssef imparts a holistic world music vista, encompassing jazz, rock and spiritual inclinations while retaining the core Arabic modalities on the aurally picturesque Birds Requiem. And his chant-like, resonating vocals entwine mystical attributes with near-flawless control amid passages that induce an impression of sacred exchanges with a higher entity. Blending Souls & Shades touches your heart, emanating from Youssef's sprawling vocals, executed with conviction and soulfulness, followed by trumpeter Nils-Petter Molvaer's spiraling lyricism, leading the band into a mid-tempo rock groove. Here, Youssef's deft oud work conjoins with guitarist Eivind Aarset's succinct chord voicings ...read more
Dhafer YoussefJazzablanca FestivalCasablanca, MoroccoApril 1, 2013On April 1, 2013, the Jazzablanca Festival audience was in for a unique experience. Programmed on the third day of the festival and subsequent to singer Melody Gardot and Belgium's Vaya Con Dios, singer/oudist Dhafer Youssef traced a journey from mysticism to jazz via rock beats. During the course of 90 minutes, Youssef's voice transported the audience to moments of epiphany where elation and melancholy met, his long vocal solos followed by an eclectic music that could not but enchant his fans, who hollered, tapped on the floor and emulated ...read more
Quốc Trung / Nguyên Lê / Dhafer Youssef / Thanh Lam / Rhani Krija / Kiều Anh Hanoi Opera HouseHanoi, VietnamSeptember 1, 2012The Hanoi Opera House celebrated its centenary in 2011, and for most of those first hundred years, Vietnamese traditional and European classical music reverberated within the walls of this elegant venue. However, as the Opera House enters its second century, there are signs--as in Vietnam itself--of gradual openness to more modern tides. This concert--billed as Khởi Nguồn (The Root Beginning)--was conceived by veteran Vietnamese composer/keyboard player Quốc Trung, and celebrated not only the beauty of ...read more
After two albums exploring the nexus of ages-old Middle Eastern harmony and modernistic electronics, Tunisian-born oudist/vocalist Dhafer Youssef turns to a stripped-down, completely acoustic environs for Abu Nawas Rhapsody. Despite leaving Oslo behind--where, on Digital Prophecy (Enja, 2003) and Divine Shadows (Jazzland, 2006), he collaborated with some of Norway's more intrepid musicians including guitarist Eivind Aarset, pianist Bugge Wesseltoft and trumpeter Arve Henriksen begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting--the Vienna-based Youssef remains associated with the Norwegian scene through his release of the disc on Wesseltoft's Jazzland label. It's an association that speaks volumes about the label's ongoing commitment to the artists in whom it believes, ...read more
Although it's a dual-leader album, in which oud player Dhafer Youssef's performance is at least as important as that of guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, one of Glow's chief causes for celebration is Muthspiel's on-form presence. After releasing the shimmeringly beautiful Bright Side (Material Records, 2006)--a little-known masterpiece which may yet take its place alongside such jazz guitar iconographs as Johnny Smith's Moonlight In Vermont (Roulette, 1953, reissued 2004) and Wes Montgomery's Incredible Jazz Guitar (Riverside, 1960)--Muthspiel's project with drummer Brian Blade, Friendly Travelers (Material Records, 2007), was a disappointment, interesting in conception but not entirely convincing in execution.
Glow ...read more
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11
Marking the beginning of the home stretch, Day Eight of the TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival was yet another lesson in diversity and the need for open-mindedness when it comes to accepting the broader spectrum that jazz has become. Yet, as demonstrated by the performances of organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, P.J. Perry (one of Canada's foremost reedmen), and oudist/vocalist Dhafer Youssef, there were other lessons ...read more
Over the last decade the oud, the Middle Eastern lute, has become a beguiling and familiar sound on culturally outward-looking jazz recordings. Tunisian player Anouar Brahem has expanded the vocabulary of the instrument with every new recording, and Lebanese player Rabih Abou-Khalil has presented it as a frontline voice in modern settings.
On Divine Shadows, his fourth solo release, Tunisian oudist Dhafer Youssef places the instrument in front of an electronic nu-jazz background. On Na'ama, his first oud recording, Israeli guitarist Amos Hoffman brings a jazz sensibility to the traditional language of the instrument. The two albums testify to a ...read more